The role of listserv participation in the professional development of a nursing community of practice
Corvey, Rebecca Jean
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The purpose of this study was to determine how listserv membership fosters practice and identity in a community of practice of advanced practice nurses. The investigation was guided by four research questions. First, what is the nature of the learning that results from participation in the listserv of a professional nursing community of practice? Second, what is the nature of the interaction between members and the community? Third, in what ways does participation in a professional listserv impact professional practice? Lastly, in what ways does participation in a professional listserv impact professional identity development This qualitative case study included face-to-face interviews of ten advanced practice nurses who were members of an advanced practice listserv. In addition to interviews, listserv documents were downloaded and analyzed for content. Four categories of interrelated findings were inductively derived from the data using the constant comparative method of analysis. The participants of the study learned about legal issues affecting practice, the political process, research applicable to practice, educational programs, job negotiations, and about medication and treatment protocols from their listserv participation. This learning occurred through discussion, questioning, networking, mentoring, observation and face-to-face meetings. Varying levels of participation characterize the nature of the interaction between the individual and the group. The membership is characterized as possessing energy. The community guides normative behavior and is synergistic. Professional practice is strengthened through the listserv, tacit knowledge becomes visible, research studies are conducted, leadership is fostered, and advocacy for clients and the profession is strengthened. The online community facilitates professional identity development through political activism, critical reflection, increasing professional power, and fostering pride in the profession. Three conclusions were reached; 1) that communities of practice can be fostered in online environments, 2) online environments can enhance professional practice, and, 3) online environments can nurture professional identity development. Online communities of practice can be a source for continuing professional education of advanced practice nurses by promoting both professional practice and professional identity development.